On a sunny spring day in April, I sat down with Goldminer’s Daughter Lodge employee LaQuann Willis. LaQuann was wrapping up his inaugural season at the Lodge where he worked as a lead Line Cook in the Top of the Lodge restaurant. He was glowing as he had recently fallen in love. I quickly learned he was in fact in love, with the Lodge and maybe a little smitten with Lodge owner Jenn Life.
LaQuann was born and raised in St. Louis. He began cooking for his family at the age of seven and attended culinary school at the Le Cordon Bleu in St. Louis. After a lifetime in St. Louis, he was ready for a new challenge. He craved new experiences and a new setting. Goldminer’s Daughter Lodge was fortunate enough to connect with LaQuann on Indeed.com. In late October of 2016, LaQuann was welcomed to his new home by Human Resources Manager, Charlie, at 12:30 a.m. with pizza, sandwich meat, juice, and Coca-Cola. LaQuann felt right at home with Charlie’s welcoming hospitality.
He quickly found his groove cooking for the employees as the Lodge began to take shape for the season. He also quickly found his ski legs as co-workers generously offered skis, boots, outerwear and a helmet and taught him a thing or two about skiing. LaQuann continued to hone his skills on the mountain by watching friends and paying attention to his stance. By the end of the season, he was comfortable skiing black diamonds and chasing friends down the mountain.
Every time I chat with a Goldminer’s guest or employee we touch on what makes Goldminer’s so special. It always, always comes down to the people. For LaQuann, he considers the connections he made over the winter as new family members. He wisely quotes, “friends come and go, but family lasts forever.”
LaQuann considers his job at Goldminer’s as the best job he’s had because he’s able to connect with the guests. He looks forward to seeing their smiles each day.
LaQuann was most surprised at how hard lodge owners Jenn and Ross work. He recounts his first time meeting Jenn, and how surprised he was to find out she was the owner since she was working so hard.
LaQuann is spending the summer in Atlanta but plans to be back come November for at least another season. He considers his time with us as a stepping-stone and an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally as he sets his sites on his future in culinary arts.
It’s individuals like LaQuann that make the Lodge such a special place, wouldn’t you say?